Apr 23, 2001

Round 7

Van Wely - Ponomariov [D20]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 c5 4. d5 Nf6 5. Nc3 b5 6. Bf4

The move 6. Bf4 began to draw attention after it was found out that White has nothing in the line 6. e5 b4 7. exf6 bxc3 8. bxc3 Nd7!.

6... Ba6

Looks not too elegant, still this is the best answer for Black at present. In case of 6... b4 there is an unpleasant 7. Nb5, after 6... a6 White gains an advantage with 7. e5 b4 8. exf6 bxc3 9. bxc3, and in case of 6... Qa5 that used to be popular Black has to reckon with 7. f3, creating a threat of a2-a4.

7. e5 b4

In case of 7... Nfd7 after 8. e6 Nb6 (if 8... Nf6, then 9. Bxc4 ) 9. exf7+ Kxf7 10. Qf3 Ke8 11. O-O-O Black got into big troubles for the extra pawn.

8. Qa4+

Black is ready to exchange the knights with 8. exf6 bxc3 9. bxc3 because after 9... Qa5 10. Qf3 Nd7 he has a good counterplay. After 8. e6 fxe6 9. Qa4+ Qd7 10. dxe6 Qxa4 11. Nxa4 Bb5 12. Nxc5 Nc6 13. Rc1 Nd5 14. Bxc4 Bxc4 15. Rxc4 Black encountered insoluble problems in the game Sakaev - I. Ibragimov (Moscow, 1999), still there was also 8... Qa5!? which after 9. Qa4+ Qxa4 10. Nxa4 Nxd5 led to the same position like in the considered game.

8... Qd7 9. e6 Qxa4 10. Nxa4 Nxd5

After 10... c3 11. Rd1 Black was not able to eliminate the white pawn e6, so he would have to play with a whole army of paralysed pieces.

11. exf7+ Kxf7 12. Nxc5 Bb5

Black keeps the extra pawn. In case of 12... Nxf4 13. Nxa6 Nxa6 14. Bxc4+ e6 15. g3 he had to give it back.

13. Bg3 e6 14. Ne4 Nd7 15. Nf3 Be7

It’s obvious that Black got an advantage from the opening. Nevertheless, White still has some counterchances. So, in case of 15... h6, wanting not to allow White to get the advantage of two bishops, White got back the pawn, sacrificed on the second move: 16. Rc1 Rc8 17. Ned2 N5b6 18. b3.

16. Nfg5+ Bxg5 17. Nxg5+ Ke7 18. Ne4 a6 19. Bd6+ Kf7 20. a4

Now if White tried to win back the pawn with 20. Ng5+ Kg6 21. Nxe6, then after 21... Rhe8 22. O-O-O Rxe6 23. Rxd5 Nb6 24. Rd4 (in case of 24. Rd1 there was 24... Ba4) 24... Re1+ 25. Kc2 b3+ 26. Kc3 Na4+ he suffered a dangerous attack.

20... bxa3 21. Rxa3 N5f6

In case of 21... Rhc8 Black had to reckon with the move 22. Bg3, involving an unpleasant threat of 23. Nd6.

22. Ng5+ Kg6 23. Nxe6

23... Rhe8 ?!

It seems that Black has put just the wrong rook on e8. After 23... Rae8! 24. Re3 Ng4 25. Nf4+ (there was neither 25. Re4? because of 25... Kf5 nor 25. Nc7? because of 25... Nxe3 26. Nxe8 Nf5 with Black’s win, and in case of 25. Re2 there was 25... c3) 25... Kf7 or 25... Kf5 White still had serious problems. But now the worst has passed.

24. Re3 Ng4 25. Nc7

White would be deprived of this resource if another black rook was on e8.

25... Nxe3 26. fxe3 Rxe3+ 27. Kf2 Rae8 28. Nxe8 Rxe8 29. Be2

It’s evident that the advantage of two bishops compensates the missing pawn to White nearly sufficiently.

29... Nb6 30. Bd1 Nd5 31. Bc2+ Kf7 32. Rd1

There was no 32. Bxh7? because of 32... g6, trapping the white bishop.

32... Ne3 33. Rd2

L. Van Wely is not afraid of an exchange of the black knight for White’s light-squared bishop, because the bishops of different colours make a draw the most probable result of the game in this case.

33... Bc6 34. Bc5

Again, there was no 34. Bxh7? because of 34... g6 35. Bc5 (35... Kg7 was threatening) 35... Ng4+ 36. Kg3 (in case of 36. Kf1 there was a strong 36... Bb5!) 36... Nf6 37. Rf2 Ke6! 38. Bxg6 Rg8, and the bishop could not have been saved.

34... Ng4+ 35. Kg3 Nf6 36. Bd4 h6 37. h3 Be4?!

Black could have kept certain advantage with 37... Rd8 though White’s resources might suffice very well to hold this position.

38. Bxf6!

The advantage of two bishops consists chiefly in an opportunity to get rid of them at a proper moment. Now it’s just such a moment for White, whereas after 38. Ba4 Rd8 he still experienced some difficulties.

38... Kxf6

Of course Black does not want to split his pawns with 38... gxf6, turning his pawn chain into miserable remnants. Still, Black had a symbolic advantage in this case, whereas after the move in the game he lost it absolutely. So, after 38... gxf6 39. Bxe4 Rxe4 40. Kf3 Re5 41. Rc2 Rb5 (in case of 41... Rc5 Black had to reckon both with 42. Ke4 to be followed with Kd4, and with an even tougher continuation 42. b4!? Rc7 43. Ke4 ) 42. Rxc4 Rxb2, and White could keep the equality notwithstanding Black’s extra pawn. The simplest way to achieve this was 43. Ra4! Rb6 44. g4 to be followed with Ra5, making the black king watch the pawns f6 and h6.

39. Rf2+ Kg5 40. h4+ Kh5

No other way. In case of 40... Kg6? White won after 41. Re2 Kf5 42. Rxe4 Rxe4 43. Kf3.

41. Re2 Bc6 42. Rd2

Enough for a draw, but 42. Rf2!? deserved attention too. The point is that White wants to launch a procedure involving bishop’s checks from d1 and c2, which works successfully for instance in case of 42... Re6 with 43. Bd1+ Kg6 44. Bc2+ . An attempt to prevent him from doing this with 42... Re1 (there is neither 42... Be4? because of 43. Re2 nor 43... g5? because of 44. Rf6) allows White to win a piece with 43. Rf5+! g5 44. Rf6 Be8 (if 44... gxh4+, then 45. Kf2 Rc1 46. Bg6+, and in case of 44... Be4 there is 45. Kf2) 45. hxg5 hxg5 46. Kf2 Rc1 47. g4+! Kxg4 (no 47... Kh4? because of 48. Bf5, and Black can escape a mate at a very dear cost only) 48. Bf5+ Kf4 (if 48... Kh4, then 49. Rh6+ Bh5 50. Bg6) 49. Bc8+ Ke5 50. Re6+, and though an extra piece is not enough to win this position, still White can put many problems before his opponent.

42... Re6 43. Bf5 Rf6 44. Bc2 g5

There seems to be no other way to free the king from the imprisonment.

45. hxg5 hxg5

If 45... Kxg5, then the pawn would have been got back with 46. Rd4.

46. Rd4 Bb5 47. Rd8 Kh6

No better was 47... Rb6 because of 48. Rh8+ Rh6 49. Rg8.

48. Rh8+ Kg7 49. Rh5 Rf1 50. Rxg5+ Kf6 51. Rh5 Ke6 52. Be4 Kd6 53. Rd5+ Kc7 54. Kg4?!

Having solved successfully defending problems in this hard position, White makes a blunder at the end. After a mere 54. Rd2 he was no worse, but now he has to play without a pawn again.

54... Rf2 55. Rd1 Rxb2 56. Kf4 Bc6

It’s White’s luck that there is already too little material on the board to punish him for his negligence. If Black began to advance his a-pawn 56... a5 , then after 57. g4 a4 58. g5 a3 59. g6 White would have escaped problems owing to his passed g-pawn which stayed out of reach of Black’s pieces.

57. Rc1 Rb4

After 57... Bxe4 58. Kxe4 Black would have lost soon the pawn c4.

58. Ke5 a5 59. g4 a4 60. g5 Rb5+ 61. Kd4 Bxe4 62. Kxe4 Rxg5 63. Rxc4+ Kb6 64. Kd3 Kb5 65. Rc8 Kb4 1/2-1/2 Draw.

Svidler - Gallagher [B90]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3

White chooses the most aggressive continuation against the Najdorf Variation in the Sicilian Defence.

6... e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Nbd7 9. g4 b5 10. g5 b4 11. Nd5

The line with 11. Ne2 Nh5 12. Qd2 is more popular, but Piotr Svidler evidently has his own considerations concerning this problem.

11... Nxd5 12. exd5 Bf5 13. Bd3 Bxd3 14. Qxd3 Be7 15. h4

After 15. Rg1 O-O 16. O-O-O a5 17. Nd2 f5 18. gxf6 Nxf6 19. Kb1 Nh5 20. Rg4 Qd7 21. Rc4 Qf5 Black equalised easily in the game Leko - Kasparov (Linares, 1999).

15... O-O 16. O-O-O a5 17. Nd2 f5 18. gxf6 Nxf6 19. h5 Qc8 20. h6 g6

21. Rdg1!?

A reinforcement. In the game Shirov - Svidler (Wijk aan Zee, 1999) 21. Rhg1 Kh8 was played, whereafter White managed to keep a slight advantage with 22. f4 Ng4 23. fxe5 Nxe5 24. Bd4 Bf6 25. Qe3 Qc7 26. Ne4 Rac8 27. Rg2. After that game P. Svidler told that Black could have got a convenient play with 21. ... Nh5!. Really, the sacrifice 22. Rxg6+ hxg6 23. Qxg6+ Kh8 gives nothing to White, and after 22. Rg4 Qf5 Black has a convenient play. So, White puts namely the queen’s rook on g1 in order to prevent the black knight from this manoeuvre.

21... Kh8 22. f4 Qa6?!

The idea of Black’s opponent should have been proved thoroughly with 22... Ng4 23. fxe5 Nxe5 24. Bd4 Bf6 25. Qe3 a4 26. Kb1 (in case of 26. Ne4 there was a very strong 26... b3 ) 26... Ra5, Black could have put considerable pressure upon the pawn d5, all the more that White’s rook had left the d-file. So, Black was OK after 27. Ne4 Rxd5 28. Nxd6 Rxd6 29. Bxe5 Qe8 30. Rf1 Kg8. After the move in the game Black’s heavy pieces will be engaged in the play, still the light ones will have nothing to do.

23. Nc4 Rfc8

If 23... exf4, then apart from a dull 24. Bxf4 Rfc8 25. b3 White could have chosen a more definite 24. Bd4! Rac8 25. b3 with excellent attacking opportunities.

24. b3 a4

In case of 24... exf4 Black had no chances to survive after 25. Bd4 a4 26. Rxg6 hxg6 27. Qxg6 Rg8 28. Qf7 Rae8 29. Re1.

25. fxe5 dxe5 26. d6!

White’s achievements in the centre of the board outweigh his concessions to Black on the queenside.

26... axb3 27. axb3 Rd8

If 27... Bd8, then after 28. Rf1 Nd7 29. Kd2 the advantage of white pieces in the centre of the board should have told.

28. Bg5 Ng8

In case of 28... Rd7 29. Qf3 Qa1+ (if 29... Rf8, then 30. Kb2) 30. Kd2 Qd4+ 31. Ke2 White’s king was relatively safe in the centre, unlike Black’s light pieces which were just hanged.

29. Qe3 Bxg5 30. Rxg5 Rxd6 31. Nxd6 Qxd6 32. Kb1?!

White’s extra exchange will tell if he manages to secure the position of his king, but White makes not the best move to achieve this. 32. Re1!? deserved attention, putting more pressure upon the pawn e5. After 32... e4 (if 32... Ra1+ 33. Kb2 Rxe1 34. Qxe1 Qd4+ 35. Kb1 e4, then White also won after 36. Rb5) 33. Qxe4 Ra1+ 34. Kb2 Qf6+ 35. Re5 White would haev achieved gradually his extra exchange both in case of 35... Ra5 36. Qd4 and after 35... Rxe1 36. Qxe1 Nxh6 37. Kb1.

32... Ra5 33. Qc1?

33. Re1!? was better, though in this case White had not more than a draw after 34... Qa6 34. Kc1 Rd5 35. Kb1.

33... Qf6?

Besides an opportunity to take a pawn with the move 33... Nxh6 as there was no 34. Rxh6? because of 34... Qa6!, Black had also a very strong 33... Nf6! with the idea to get to c3 through d5 or e4. After 34. Rd1 (in case of 34. Re1 the solution was 34... Nd5) 34... Ne4! 35. Rg3 ( 35.Rxd6 Nc3+ 36. Kb2 Ra2#) 35...Qf8! Black won the game.

34. Rg4 Nxh6??

White has invented a way to lose in one move. After 34... Qa6 35. Qb2 Qd6 he could still have struggled quite successfully.

35. Qxh6 1-0 Black resigned. Probably he had reckoned on 35. Rxh6?? Qa6, but evidently he failed in his calculations.

Milov - Gelfand [D27]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e3

Such play cannot promise anything to White.

5... a6 6. a4 c5 7. Bxc4 Nc6 8. O-O Be7 9. Qe2 cxd4 10. Rd1

10... e5

The game is reduced to a well known position of the Queen's Gambit Accepted in which the white knight was put on c3 too early.

11. exd4 exd4 12. Nxd4 Nxd4 13. Qe5 Qd6 14. Qxd4

Boris Gelfand preferred once 14. Qxd6 Bxd6 15. Rxd4 Be5 16. Rh4 O-O 17. Bf4 in this position, and after an inaccurate 17... Bxf4 (stronger was 17... Bxc3 18. bxc3 Bd7 19. Be5 Rfe8 with an equalisation like in the game Huzman - S. Ivanov (Beer-Sheva, 1998)) 18. Rxf4 Be6 19. Bxe6 fxe6 20. Rb4 White got an advantage in the game Gelfand - P. Nikolic (Tilburg, 1990).

14... Qxd4 15. Rxd4 Bc5 16. Rd1 O-O 17. Bf4

A more tensed situation could have arisen after 17. Bg5 which was seen many times, but even then Black would have no reasons to trouble.

17... Bg4 18. Re1 Rfe8 19. h3 1/2-1/2 Draw.

"Chess is so interesting in itself, as not to need the view of gain to induce engaging in it;and thence it is never played for money."

Benjamin Franklin, "Chess made easy", 1802

"It is one of the insights of modern players, and especially of the best ones, that one has toplay the position itself, not some abstract idea of the position."

John Watson, "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy", 1998

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